When we left Japan, we flew direct from Tokyo to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city and second largest by population.
Based on overwhelming recommendation from bloggers and travel forums, after our first night at the Sheraton Hanoi (which you can read about here) we moved to a hotel in the Old Quarter. This was a complete consensus in the travel blogosphere. Everyone says ‘stay in the Old Quarter’.
According to the UNESCO web site, “Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam, is 165 km from the capital of Ha Noi. Covering an area of 43,400 hectares and including over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabitated and unaffected by humans, it forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.” http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672
The Cruise – 3 Days (or is it 2 Days?)
Colleen negotiated her best price for a 2 night / three day cruise through the Hanoian Hotel. This included travel by private van (we shared with one other couple), all meals, kayaking, two rooms (each with a balcony) and touring around. The price was $165USD for 4 adults and 25% reduction for Ben. That is 3.7 million Dong or $204CAD. Since drinks were not included we bought 12L of water and 14 beer for $14.60CAD and brought it on board. (That beer and water cost 266,000 Dong and was 11,000 Dong more than we paid for dinner!).
Because I’m full of wind and can’t control myself, I divided this too long post into two parts. See the first part here if you missed it.
Eating Like a Local – Hole in the Wall Restaurant
After a hot and frustrating morning in an almost futile attempt to solve our money woes, we followed our maps.me app (a great little app that does not need wi-fi) to a restaurant clearly marked as Vietnamese. Once we crossed the street, we actually passed on the little hole in the wall shop. It was at the front of a small alley and had one long table beside the small open kitchen. The menu board was in Vietnamese and offered five choices, one of which was bia (beer).
Our journey to the far side of earth started in style in the British Airways Lounge. Our pre departure time whizzed by too quickly before we boarded the Japan Airlines (JAL) flight from Boston to Tokyo and settled into our business class. All thanks to the Queen of Points, Colleen.